This website specialises for those Aspiring Actors who want to audition for Drama school. However, this article “audition Technique 101” can be applied to any Actor or performer. Mindset and attitude are absolutely vital when putting yourself under pressure. Getting yourself in the right headspace can be the difference between a great performance or a disaster. I have done both!
Attitude to have when auditioning
Be positive – when in doubt, err on the side of enthusiasm. It doesn’t mean you need to be a performing monkey that smiles from ear to ear every second. It just means that if a Casting Director asks you about one of your past experiences speak about it in a positive light.
I have seen so many auditions (from the other side of the desk) where a negative person brings their personal grievances to auditions. This is a professional environment where employers have so many other options. They won’t appreciate any bitchiness or bad attitude. Many times an employer will just choose the better option. If there is one piece of advice I could give in Audition technique 101 it is: think positive in every way that you can.
When I applied to Drama school
When I was applying to Drama school I really believe that on a couple of occasions I got through to the next round because they could see how enthusiastic I was about Theatre. I talked about the plays I’d seen in London and I always said something positive about the main actor or about the cast. Half the reason they will take you on is because they like your vibe. You’re young and you’re fresh so use the natural energy you have to a positive effect and people will be drawn to you.
If you are not applying to Drama school
The principles of audition technique are exactly the same – doesn’t matter if it is for Drama school or for professional Actors. Even veterans need to remind themselves that no matter how many years you have been doing this you have to keep an open mind. You have to keep the enthusiasm that you had when you first started alive throughout your career.
Even if you are an absolute mess inside it is much more professional to exude a positive vibe. Everybody has problems and issues throughout their day but it is imperative that you don’t bring that to your work. Every interaction and question needs to be handled in a positive way.
Chit Chat Guidelines
There is a spectrum of friendliness that every person in an audition can be placed upon. There are those people who are a good solid 7 out of 10 who are friendly and ask you how you are. There are those people who are extremely enthusiastic 9’s that have a Joker-like smile etched on their face. Then there are the 1’s and 2’s who are normally failed Actors that resent you having any enthusiasm at all.
I would recommend not taking anything personally.
You will go on to audition many times and encounter many different people. If you speak to anyone who has done this for a long time they will have a wealth of crazy stories. When people are nervous they can act in strange ways. Remember that the person sitting opposite you might be even more nervous than you.
For Drama school
It is very likely that they are going to ask you about what Theatre you like, where you got the monologue or what you’ve seen lately. I would recommend role playing these questions with a friend. A lot of the questions are common sense and example questions are listed below. However, under pressure, it can be helpful if you have at least gone through the answers roughly. People can say strange things when they are under pressure so it’s best to cover every base by having a little practice run. In fact is there is a Golden rule for Audition technique 101 it is “practise everything” from walking in through the door to the way you say goodbye.
Drama school popular Questions:
What’s the reason you want to be an Actor?
Why do you want to come to this school?
What’s the best piece of Theatre you’ve ever seen?
Have you read a play that you really enjoyed recently?
Make sure you have answers to these questions.
I tried to improvise these on the day and my answers did not come out well. I learned my lessons the hard way, make sure you do not do the same. If you can’t find a partner to practise these questions with then I would recommend typing out some stock answers or recording your answers and then listening to them back.
Normal audition popular Questions:
- Did you find the place okay?
- Have you read the script?
- What did you eat for lunch?
When you audition for professional Acting jobs then they assume that you are a professional and you do not need to be molly-coddled. The questions I have received, if any, are more about getting you relaxed and building a rapport. My advice is to always be yourself and don’t get too hung up on how you act on both sides of the actual audition material. If you can act well it doesn’t matter too much if you are a lovely person. If you cannot act then it doesn’t matter if you are the Dalai Lama you will not be getting that job. The main issue is how you have prepared and what you bring to the actual audition – the piece of script or the monologue you have chosen. That above all else is the most important feature of an audition so do not forget it!
How to act in the room
They have seen hundreds of people audition. Casting Directors, Producers and Directors know you’re nervous. They know you really want this to go well. Before you walk in the room there is nothing more you can do but…
This is the real secret to Audition technique 101. At that point, before you walk through the door, there is no more preparation you can do. If things go well then they go well. If things go badly then you learn a couple of important lessons. Before you walk in just remind your self to be in the moment and enjoy it!
How to deal with nerves
A lot of people disagree on what to do before an audition. I’m going to tell you how I prepare for an audition and why and then I’m going to explain the counterpoint argument. Whatever you think is more congruent to your vibe then I would recommend you go for that.
What I do:
Audition technique 101 is really about what headspace are you in when you audition. So let’s ask that quesion: What is a better state to do an audition in?
You’re nervous and shaking Breathing or thinking straight is difficult. You haven’t spoken to anyone outside the audition and you haven’t spoken to anyone all day.
You’re relaxed, breathing deeply and your body is open. Maybe chatting to anyone who’s around and you’ve been chatting with people all day.
The big difference between the two people auditioning is that the first one is inside their own head and the second one is not. Some people try to predict what’s going to happen in the audition room or if the panel “will like them”.
The second one is non-judgemental and will take whatever comes their way. This is called a flow state.
Top athletes, musicians, actors, pilots, bomb disposal experts, fighters, and lovers operate from this state. When you play sports you aren’t consciously thinking put one foot in front of the other. When you shout you don’t think to brace your stomach but you do it perfectly 99 percent of the time.
The problem with acting is that it is so difficult to get into this state because the situations are so contrived and the pressure is very much on!
The main way to get yourself in this head space is to be social! This does not mean that you need to be a dancing monkey all day every day and in the audition. You just need to get out of your own head and get out of your own way.
What I recommend
I have a chat with the taxi driver or the person sitting next to me on the tube before the audition. If I buy a sandwich half an hour before then I ask the person on the other side of the counter how their day is going. Sometimes I call a friend to have a chat or organise something to take my mind of the nerves.
A lot of Acting is simply getting out of your own way and in an audition you are either right for the part or not. All you can do is your best performance and then the rest is up to them. So what I do is just make idle chit chat with everyone I can in order to stay positive and relaxed.
There is one exception to this rule. And that is when you are talking to negative people. If the person you’re sitting next to in the audition is friendly and relaxed then bask in the delight of a new friend.
- Some people overly nervous and negative.
- They might moan about how many times they’ve auditioned for this place or with this Director.
- Some people start giving you advice about what to do or what mistakes you might have made in the past.
At this point, I politely excuse myself and walk away. It is better to not be social than to be social with a negative person. That is the only instance where you are allowed to sit there in silence. Otherwise, what is the point in sitting there and stewing in your own nerves all day?
I remember walking into audition rooms and I would sit next to someone who would maniacally start talking to me about how nervous they were and how much they didn’t think they were going to get in. I just wanted to concentrate on relaxing so this was unhelpful.
However, the auditions I enjoy the most are the ones where I casually chat with the people running the audition. I might ask some other auditionees their story and where they’ve come from and then I have a little chat to the panel before I do my audition.
What Some Other People do
Some people listen to “Eye of the Tiger” on their headphones to concentrate. They sit in the corner with their eyes closed and try and think about the time that their dog died when they were 4 to prepare for crying.
Of course, I’m exaggerating but you can always tell those people from a mile off and I’m sure the panel can as well. They may be great actors – so great that it doesn’t matter – but they’re not going to be very fun to work with.
That being said. If you are a very intense character or if you are a natural introvert then don’t feel compelled to do things my way. If you need to maintain a level of focus or if you are one of those people that find the majority of the population irritating then plug in those headphones and zone the rest of the world out.
Ultimately you will learn over time what works best for you. If you speak to older or more experienced Actors you will never find that there is a set rule for Auditions. The general tenants are dealing with nerves and how to Act in the room. Of course, there are other things to think about:
- Learning lines
- Preparing a speech
- Finding monologues and material
- Audition Technique
- Finding the best Drama schools
There are multiple articles on this website about how to do those things but ultimately if you’ve put in the work then auditions simply come down to mindset. I would go back to what I said earlier:
If you’ve been in this industry for any amount of time then you know that most people don’t do it for the money. Those that do quickly find out that money and Acting often do not go hand in hand. So what is the point in doing this if you do not enjoy it?